|Index||4 reviews in total|
Average Hitch which means better than most everything else from the
time. Lovelorn advice columnist (Barry) finds out from nosy
advice-seeker that his wife is cheating. Confronting her, he loses his
cool and whacks her. The cops think they've got the culprit when a
friend (Coleman) turns up after the killing with incriminating evidence
on him. But is he really the one cuckolding Barry.
There's some padding here, but it's smoothed over with good acting from Barry, especially. Catch Lou Jacobi as the first incarnation of a Columbo-type detective (IMDB), replete with frumpy raincoat and un-cop like mannerisms. Must say I didn't recognize Dabney Coleman in a straight role; that is, before he perfected his smarmy egotists on shows like Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman and Buffalo Bill. Overall, the episode is more interesting than suspenseful, but will hold you till the end, which may be a stretch but still manages Hitch's trademark irony.
***SPOILERS*** The advice columnist for the New york Examiner John
Chambers using the pen name "Uncle George", Gene Barry, has gotten many
strange letters from is many fans on what to do but the one from
someone calling themselves "Good Samaritan" was a real eye opener. It
turned out to be from his next door neighbor Mrs Weatherbery, Charity
Grace, who has a habit of looking across the street into her neighbor's
window. Mrs Weatherbury's next door neighbor just happens to be "Uncle
George" or John Chambers himself! The fact that Uncle George is really
columnist John Chambers is totally unknown to Mrs.Weatherbery which in
the end turns out to be a fatal mistake on Chambers' part!
Being told by Mrs.Weatherbry in the letters she sends him that her next door neighbor's wife has been cheating on her hard working husband has Chambers notice that the letter was mailed from the same apartment house where he and his wife Louise, Particia Donahue, live. It didn't take much checking that it was Louise who was having a secret affair with another man while Chambers was away at work!
Confronting Louise about her infidelity things get out of hand with Chambers ended up killing Louise by splitting her skull open with a statue of Cupid. Now seeing that he's facing hard time behind bars or even the electric chair Chambers does everything to cover up his crime. As things turn out it's Chambers former fellow employee at the newspaper Tom Esterow, Dabney Coleman, who ends up taking the rap for Chamber's killing of Louise. Esterow just happened to be the right man in the right place, in coming to see Louise about a painting, in being found at the scene of the crime!
Things get a little more complicated when it later turns out that Chambers' boss editor Simon Aldritch, John Larkin, was in fact the other man involved with Louise. This has the really guilty of killing his wife John Chambers in the drivers or cat-bird seat in having two not one suspects in his wife's murder! Both of whom he has, at least with Aldritch, no use for.
***SPOILERS*** With now Aldritch about to be being framed in Louise's murder all Chambers needed was an eye witness in placing him and Louise together in his apartment the evening that she was found dead; and it's there when Mrs.Weatherbery comes in. With the police but not Mrs.Weatherbery knowing that John Chambers is "Uncle George" she tells the cops on hand that she, after fingering Aldritch, in fact wrote "Uncle George" about how Louise was cheating on her poor husband John Chambers with her secret lover who, unknown to her, just happened to be his boss Simon Aldritch! And as it turned out it was non other then "Uncle George's" cryptic reply to her, that for some reason wasn't printed his his column, that in the end implicated him in Louise's murder!
P.S As it turned out John Chambers best witness in framing the innocent Simon Aldritch for his wife's murder instead unknowingly fingered him,or his alter ego "Uncle George",instead!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Five years before "Prescription: Murder," we have Richard Levinson and
William Link writing an Alfred Hitchcock episode that seems like a
dress rehearsal. Here, we have Gene Barry as a columnist, not a doctor,
and getting rid of his wife.
Mention was made of Lou Jacobi's character as a precursor of sorts to Lt. Columbo. The latter character made his debut on TV on 31 July 1960, with Bert Freed in the role. So, Columbo was already established as a character.
Overall, a superb episode with a top-notch cast. And it is the cast that makes this episode stand out, including a young Dabney Coleman. Beyond that, it's interesting that this episode was somewhat remade as a pilot movie for Columbo. But this episode has the Hitchcock touch, and has a flavor all its own.
NYC newspaperman John Chambers (Gene Barry), giving advice to the
lovelorn as "Uncle George", receives a letter from an old biddy who
witnessed a housewife's adulterous affair and wonders what to do about
it. Once "Uncle George" realizes the housewife is his, the cuckolded
columnist tells the snoop to mind her own business and takes matters
into his own hands by bashing his wife's head in with a statue of
Cupid. Chambers begins to frame a one-time co-worker in the art
department (Dabney Coleman) for the crime but quickly changes his plans
after learning his publisher was the man carrying on with his wife...
The "Dear Uncle George" episode is a highly entertaining entry in Hitch's suspense series and comes complete with his trademark twist ending. The character of the distracted, seemingly bumbling Lt. Wolfson (Lou Jacobi) would later be expanded by the show's writers, Richard Levinson and William Link, into Peter Falk's COLUMBO.
To paraphrase some wag or other, I'd wring elf-eared Gene Barry's neck if he had one. He's the unlikeliest leading man I've ever seen and the comedy is often unintentional. Apparently that hunchback was big in Broadway musicals before Hollywood beckoned in a fit of dementia. Geez, Louise.
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